Calgary

From stage walk to drive-thru, Calgary school gets creative to deliver grad experience

In yet another new normal for Calgarians living through a global pandemic, one high school set out to deliver graduation but in a COVID-19-sensitive way.

'It is something only 2020 graduates will get to experience,' observes one student

The inaugural graduating class at All Saints High School in Calgary got a bit creative when it came to celebrating their achievements during COVID-19. 2:37

In yet another new normal for Calgarians living through a global pandemic, one high school set out to deliver graduation but in a COVID-19-sensitive way.

All Saints High School moved students from walking the stage to a drive-thru on Tuesday.

  • Watch some Calgary students experience a COVID-19-friendly graduation experience, in the video at the top of this story.

"I felt like a princess," graduate Rachael Weed told CBC News.

"It was a real disappointment not getting to have a grad, like everybody else before us. They took what happened and made something great out of it."

Rachael's dad Terry drove her, peeking through the sunroof, through a makeshift graduation space outside the school.

Rachael Weed still got to feel like a princess, as her high school shifted to a drive-thru grad format. Fortunately her family's car has a sunroof. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Terry said the pandemic affected many graduates.

"It was awfully disappointing for all of us. There were a lot of tears when it first happened," Terry said.

"We didn't know what to expect. When we drove up, there was a line of teachers and students and people taking pictures. There were people on the other side of the road just cheering. It was great. It was really special for her, and for us, too, as parents."

Mom agrees on that last point.

"I am just so proud of her," Wendy Weed said.

"She has worked so hard. It has been so difficult going from a classroom to an online setting. She has done amazing, I am just so proud."

Juliene Vallery Salon, right, is happy to be graduating this year, and so is her mom, Juliet Salon. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Another graduate said she didn't know what was planned until she arrived Tuesday morning.

"I thought it was going to be weird because I hadn't heard of anything like this before, but it turned out to be pretty amazing," Juliene Vallery Salon said.

"At first, I was like, OK, let's get this over with, but it ended up pretty cool afterwards."

Juliene's mother, Juliet Salon, could not stop smiling.

"It's our first graduating daughter. We are so proud, proud parents, despite this pandemic. It's very different, but it turned out amazing. Everybody is happy."

Emily Herrera says grads of 2020 will get to experience grad in a unique way, compared with years before and after. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Emily Herrera says only students graduating this year will get to experience something like a drive-thru grad.

"It was a unique opportunity and I am so grateful for it. It is something only 2020 graduates will get to experience, so it's really good. It's a blessing."

The school principal says it was about making the best of a bad situation.

"We wanted to provide a legendary opportunity, so they could celebrate with us and their families," Mike Bolder said.

"We felt as bad as they did when this all happened. We said, 'We have to step up to the plate and think outside the box to provide this opportunity.' I think this is something they will remember the rest of their lives."

Mike Bolder is the principal at All Saints High School in Calgary. (Mike Symington/CBC)

With files from Mike Symington and James Young

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